What to Eat in Amsterdam: 10+ Foods You Need to Try

While more famous for its rich cultural heritage, quirky Dutch design, and pretty canals, Amsterdam is also increasingly becoming known for its diverse and delectable food scene. Exploring this exciting culinary landscape is an essential part of experiencing the city to its fullest.

But what local foods are not to be missed?

Fries with mayo? When in Amsterdam, yes! Photo credit: Ryan

What to eat in Amsterdam

Here’s an insider’s guide when it comes to what to eat in Amsterdam—and where to eat, too.

Seafood from the local coastline

There’s a saying that Amsterdam was built on herring bones. Apparently, a diet supplemented with this omega-rich fish kept the seafaring nation’s sailors healthy during their long voyages across the seven seas. To this day, chopped herring, which is lightly brined not just raw, remains a healthy snack favorite for many Amsterdammers. Try this local delicacy at Haring & Zo, right behind the Royal Palace.

Amsterdam’s proximity to the North Sea ensures a bounty of other fresh seafood options that are a must-try.

Other places to try:

  • Tuck into succulent Zeeland mussels with crispy fries (and gin-tonics) at Mossel & Gin.
  • Enjoy an assortment of freshly caught fish and seafood at the convivial The Seafood Bar or the more upscale Bistro de la Mer.
Give herring a try when in Amsterdam.

Dutch cheese

Sure, it’s a cliché, but no visit to the Dutch capital would be complete without sampling the country’s famous cheese. Avoid the tourist traps and shop for kaas like a local, at De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam, Fromagerie L’Amuse, and Fromagerie Abraham Kef, where you’ll soon learn that there’s so much more to Dutch cheese than Gouda. In fact, you can find everything from mild and creamy goat’s cheese to tangy red-washed rinds and piquant blues, salt crystal studded aged raw milk farmer’s cheese, as well as various herbed and spiced varieties such as clove cheese.

You may want to dive into a bubbling pot of kaasfondue, a creamy blend of melted local cheese perfect for dipping chunks of crusty bread and tender-crips vegetables at Restaurant Smelt. Or visit Kaasbar Amsterdam, where you can sample an assortment of local cheeses, paired with local wines and craft beers, presented on a sushi-style conveyer belt. Many restaurants also offer a local kaasplankje (cheese board).

Dutch cheese
Gouda, Edam, Maasdam…so many great Dutch cheeses to try.

Apple pie, pancakes, poffertjes & pastries

Apple pie
Travelers with a sweet tooth will also find plenty to enjoy in Amsterdam. Generous slices of Dutch apple pie, topped with whipped cream, are a common sight at Dutch cafes.

  • For heavenly house-baked appeltaart, head to the cozy café Winkel 43.
  • Treat yourself to a tompoes, a rectangular pastry filled with creamy crème patissière and topped with bright pink (and sometimes royal orange icing), at Van Avezaath Beune, a century-old patisserie.

Don’t leave Amsterdam without trying poffertjes, diminutive Dutch buckwheat pancakes served fresh with powdered sugar and butter at “the most famous poffertjes stand in the world”, Poffertjes Albert Cuyp on the eponymous street market.

Insider’s Tip: Indulge in an all-you-can-eat Dutch pancake feast while cruising the IJ River on De Pannenkoekenboot. Finish your plate-sized pannenkoeken (bacon, apple, or plain) with your choice of toppings, and do bring the littles – there’s a ball pool in the hold.

apple pie
Dutch apple pie holds a cherished place among traditional Dutch desserts.

Typical Dutch sandwiches (broodjes)

There are few nations with such a reverence for the humble sandwich. In fact, both breakfast and lunch in the Netherlands are centered around bread-based meals.

For something quintessentially Amsterdam, try the broodje halfom, a pastrami and liver sandwich with Yiddish-Dutch roots at Slagerij Vet. Visit Eetsalon van Dobben for the ultimate broodje kroket, a crispy veal croquette with mustard on a fluffy white bun, or go the tosti ham-kaas (grilled cheese with ham) route at Toastable.

crispy veal croquette on a soft white bun
A broodje kroket. Photo credit: Andy Mabbett

Rich, buttery cookies (koekjes

If you’re not sure what cookies are doing on this list, consider this: the very word “cookie” comes from the Dutch koekje.

Carefully crafted using traditional recipes and high-quality ingredients, such as real butter, fresh eggs, and premium spices, it should come as no surprise that every Dutch city, town, and village boasts a cookie of its own.

In the Dutch capital, Amsterdamse koggetjes are the official choice. Stock up on these nougatine-studded delights and other traditional Dutch cookies, such as:

  • Krakelingen (sweet cinnamon pretzels)
  • Speculaas (crisp cookies warmly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger)
  • Gevulde koek (soft cookies with chewy almond paste) at Patisserie Holtkamp, a stunning 1920’s Amsterdam School-style pastry shop.
  • You may already know stroopwafels (waffle cookies sandwiched together with a caramelly syrup) and while you’ll find them at every Dutch supermarket (and covered in all kinds of nonsense at insanely overpriced tourist traps), the best place to try them is at the Albert Cuypmarkt where they are served fresh, gooey, warm and plain (as they should be).

By daring to venture beyond the obvious choices, like stroopwafels (though we still adore them), you’re already on the path to discovering Amsterdam off the beaten path.

dutch cookies
Maybe you’ve heard of stroopwafels, but give some other koekjes a go, too. Photo credit: Leven met Liv

Dutch comfort food

From steaming bowls of snert (split pea soup) with smoky rookworst sausage and hachee (beef and onion stew) to creamy andijviestamppot met gehaktbal (mashed potatoes with endives, a giant, juicy meatball and gravy), traditional Dutch food is hearty and sure to satisfy your cravings in cold or inclement conditions. Head to Hap-Hmm for authentic Dutch fare and a convivial atmosphere.

Gehaktbal: a giant, juicy meatball! Photo credit: Takeaway

Deep fried delights

Deep-fried snacks are deeply ingrained in Dutch culinary culture.

Amsterdam boasts excellent fries (locally known as patat), typically served with mayonnaise. You can find them at street stalls like Wil Graanstra on Westermarkt or at specialized fry shops throughout the city, including Vleminckx Sausmeesters and Frites uit Zuyd, which also has excellent ice cream.

Popular in cafes as a snack to accompany drinks, bitterballen (bite-sized croquettes) come with a variety of fillings (beef, veal or shrimp are most traditional), and are often served with mustard. Café Restaurant de Ysbreeker is a good place to try them. If you happen to visit during the festive season, miller and artisan wholewheat bakery Hartog’s Volkoren Bakkerij & Maalderij makes the city’s best version of the local yeasted donut variety, oliebollen (Nov-Dec only).

Bitterballen, or Dutch meatballs
Bitterballen are a delicious Dutch fried food. Photo credit: bionicgrrrl

New Dutch Cuisine

In recent decades, Amsterdam chefs have started celebrating local ingredients and Dutch flavors with a lighter touch in what’s become known as the New Dutch Cuisine. Restaurants like the iconic De Kas and next-door Slow Food specialist Merkelbach were Dutch farm-to-table pioneers. Meanwhile, Bolenius, the “flagship of Dutch cuisine,” and fellow Michelin-starred RIJKS, have made their mark as passionate purveyors of elevated local flavors and seasonal products. 

croissant with rhubard and edible flowers
Rhubard dessert at De Kas. Photo credit: @mokumista

Netherlands’ culinary imports

Food from the former “Dutch East Indies” and “Dutch West Indies”, have a strong presence in Amsterdam. Unique to the Netherlands is the rijsttafel (“rice table”). Invented in colonial times, it’s composed of numerous small dishes, rice, and spicy sambals, offering a variety of flavors and textures from regional kitchens across Indonesia, much like a modern tasting menu. Restaurant Blauw is a good place to try it. For Surinamese street food, like lamb and long bean-stuffed roti rolls, deep-fried bara snacks, and spicy chicken and rice, head to Roopram Roti.

To fill post-war labor shortages, guest workers from Turkey and Morocco came to the Netherlands in the latter half of the previous century and many have made a permanent home here. Taste this legacy in the fluffiest couscous ever at Couscousbar Amsterdam and discover the joys of Turkish pastries like baklava and kadayif at Şerifoğlu.

roll with vegetable and meat
Roti rolls are a popular street food option. Photo credit: Alpha

Take a Dutch food tour: Learn more about what to eat in Amsterdam

food tour in amsterdam
Dive into Dutch history and cuisine on a food tour.

Join a local expert to try typical local bites on our Ultimate Amsterdam Food & History Tour. The rich culinary culture of the Netherlands goes hand in hand with its history, as you’ll taste for yourself as you explore three of Amsterdam’s most picturesque neighborhoods – street food included.

Photo of author
About the author

Originally from South Africa, Karin Engelbrecht has spent the last 28 years living in Amsterdam. With her extensive knowledge of the best local eateries, attractions and shopping destinations across the seven boroughs, Karin is the go-to gal for all things Mokum (an affectionate local nickname for the city). As a food and lifestyle writer, you’ll find her work in magazines, travel guide books and websites by publishers such as Time Out, I Amsterdam and Fodor’s Travel. Or follow her on Instagram and Facebook, where she regularly shares her latest discoveries as @mokumista.

More by Karin Engelbrecht

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